Appearing in federal court Monday, former Coeburn town manager Loretta Mays pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining more than $60,000 in the town’s name and fraudulently obtaining more than $20,000 in goods and benefits directly through or from the town.
In her plea agreement, she acknowledged she faces likely incarceration and agreed to pay restitution to the town.
Mays was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond and faces a sentencing hearing Aug. 11 in the U.S. district court in Abingdon, according to court documents.
Mays pleaded guilty to the details in an “information” prepared by federal prosecutors. It states that between late April 2006 and mid-February 2013, she set out to fraudulently obtain funds.
First, in late April 2006, Mays applied for a business Visa card in the town’s name but used her own address. In early May, she got a $10,000 advance on the card and ultimately racked up more than $30,000 of charges for personal expenses.
Then, Mays applied for another card in the town’s name, using a Wise post office box as the mailing address, and got more than $20,000 of purchases and cash advances.
Then, she obtained yet another card, again using a Wise post office box address, and racked up more than $10,000 in charges.
From early May 2007 to early February 2013, Mays used an actual Coeburn town credit card to make $9,397.02 in purchases for herself.
Further, the town had charge accounts at various local vendors, and Mays charged $291.90 worth of personal charges on those, prosecutors said.
Finally, Mays was absent from work without leave on various occasions between late May 2011 and mid-February 2013 and fraudulently received pay totaling $10,624.89, according to the information.
Mays signed an agreement to plead guilty to bank fraud, which comes with penalties of as much as 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of supervised release.
Also, she agreed to pay $20,313.81 of restitution to the town of Coeburn.
While she is free on bond, Mays agreed not to travel outside the federal court jurisdictions for western Virginia or east Tennessee for medical appointments without permission of the U.S. probation office.
As of Tuesday afternoon, state-level charges against Mays remained active in Wise County Circuit Court. She was indicted in January on three counts of credit card theft, eight counts of embezzlement totaling nearly $2,800 and 12 counts of felony embezzlement from the town of Coeburn. Prior to Monday’s federal court actions, Mays was scheduled for a hearing in the county court this week.
Dickenson County Commonwealth Attorney Seth Baker was named a special prosecutor in the case. In an email Monday, Baker noted that the U.S. attorney’s office would be releasing information on Mays’ case shortly — which had not yet happened by Tuesday afternoon.
In an email, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office said Monday night that a press release was in the works.
Baker could not be reached Tuesday afternoon for additional comments.
Coeburn town council put Mays on administrative leave in February 2013 and fired her in April 2013 during a state police investigation of Lay’s Hardware Center for the Arts, where Mays was secretary-treasurer. She was convicted in 2014 of embezzling nearly $25,000 from Lay’s. At her sentencing, Mays said she forged one Lay’s check in 2009 and forged others about two years later.